How does food affect mood?
There are many explanations for the cause-and-effect relationship between food and mood. The following are some examples:
- Fluctuations in blood sugar levels are associated with changes in mood and energy, and are affected by what we eat.
- Brain chemicals (neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine) influence the way we think, feel and behave. They can be affected by what we’ve eaten.
- There can be abnormal reactions to artificial chemicals in foods, such as artificial colourings and flavourings.
- There are reactions that can be due to the deficiency of an enzyme needed to digest a food. Lactase, for instance, is needed to digest lactose (milk sugar). Without it, a milk intolerance can build up.
- People can become hypersensitive to foods. This can cause what are known as delayed or hidden food allergies or sensitivities.
- Low levels of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids can affect mental health, with some symptoms associated with particular nutritional deficiencies. For example, links have been demonstrated between low levels of certain B-vitamins and symptoms of schizophrenia, low levels of the mineral zinc and eating disorders, and low levels of omega-3 oils and depression.
Which foods do I need to eat in order to feel well?
”The most vital substance for a healthy mind and body is water. It’s easy to overlook drinking the recommended six to eight glasses, per day, which is a low-cost, convenient, self-help measure that can quickly change how we feel, mentally as well as physically. Having a minimum of five portions, daily, of fresh fruit and vegetables (organically grown, if possible) provides the nutrients needed to nourish mind and body (one portion equals about a handful).”
”It’s best not to skip breakfast, to keep regular meal times, and to choose foods that release energy slowly, such as oats and unrefined wholegrains. It’s also important to eat some protein foods, such as meat, fish, beans, eggs, cheese, nuts or seeds, every day. As well as providing nutrients, these eating strategies help smooth the negative effects of fluctuating blood sugar levels, which include irritability, poor concentration, fatigue, depression and food cravings. Essential fatty acids, particularly the omega-3 type found in oil-rich fish, such as mackerel and sardines, linseeds (flax), hemp seeds and their oils, are vital for the formation and healthy functioning of the brain. Other seeds and nuts, such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts and walnuts, also contain important ‘good mood’ nutrients.”
All information above from: http://www.mind.org.uk/help/medical_and_alternative_care/food_and_mood-the_mind_guide